Gaming without Borders.

Hi everyone, my name's Joe, and I'll be tormenting you with inane banter acting as your host this fine day. I suck terribly at writing introductions, so let's just say that I am not an old hand at RPGs, having only found this hobby in the last year or so, meaning much of what I say will be redundant and filled with modern hipster slang such as, 'groovy', 'radical', and 'funky fresh'. Try to keep up, please.

Today, I'll talk about something that doesn't get nearly enough coverage so far as I am concerned: Gaming online.

No, not World of Warcraft. In fact, I'm not talking about any so-called MMORPG. I'm talking about playing real roleplaying games over the shiny box known as a computer. There are a couple of ways to play, each with advantages and disadvantages. None are quite as satisfying as playing face-to-face and watching the expression on your friend's face turn to one of sheer dread when his character wakes up and discovers he's now armed only with a spoon and facing a massive red dragon.1

But they can be extremely fun nonetheless. The most common methods of Internet gaming are:

  • Play-by-email
  • Play-by-IM
  • and Play-by-forum

First up is playing by email, which is a challenge most times as you often need to set up a central depot of sorts to do it correctly. A webmail list is only the beginning here! But it has advantages in that it's much more sedately paced, so is easy to fit in when the hectic reality of life strikes you down.

Secondly comes play-by-IM (or Skype or whatever instant messaging style service you prefer, coupled preferably with a digital map program). The disadvantages of this are immediately apparent. You need to gather with your group at a predetermined time and go through the motions of a traditional game. This is excellent for building friendships and having the same instant-gratification one would get from face-to-face gaming, but it can suffer from lag and other unanticipated delays. Also, just an observation on my part, but a lot of IM games tend to devolve into silliness very quickly.

My preferred method of Internet play is play-by-forum (or play-by-post, whichever you prefer). There are plenty of websites out there to facilitate your play, and the real beauty of this is that you can game with players from all over the world. Of course, the flaw here is that, like play-by-email games, the pace can be slow. Of course, that makes them good as extras in addition to your regular face-to-face gaming.

I got into play-by-forum gaming when my group went through a lull last year. I desperately needed some gaming and so turned to the dark land of the Internet to seek it out, like many a young lad before me. I tried several MMOs and found them to be lacking in what I wanted, namely roleplaying. That is when I stumbled onto the idea of play-by-forum, and it's nicely supplemented my group's gaming ever since.

My site of choice is Rpol.net, due to the great community and vast number of games, but there's plenty out there to choose from, some good, a lot bad. A decent list to start with is here at RPG Gateway.

What about you? Have you ever played games over the Internet? If so, what were your experiences like? And how did you choose to go about doing it?



1 That'll teach him to whine about not wanting to start our campaigns in taverns anymore!

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